When thinking about Florida, the first place that probably comes to mind is Miami. When thinking about anything related to golf, Tiger Woods probably tops the list. Well, we weren’t in Miami, and Tiger was nowhere to be found, but we did have a pleasant sojourn when we spent a weekend in St. Augustine. This somewhat sleepy city—in comparison to its South Florida counterparts—exudes a sense of southern hospitality and grace. This was evident the moment we arrived at The Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, a 40-minute drive from the Jacksonville airport.
Guest rooms at Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village are accented with rich colors.
What to Expect
Resting in World Golf Village, minutes from the popular World Golf Hall of Fame and PGA Tour Golf Academy, the resort is in the thick of a $10 million renovation that is scheduled for completion next month. The project will transform the hotel with a remodeled, 10-story atrium lobby (we were impressed by the lobby’s seven-story hanging sculpture—a mix of shimmering aureoles, which bounce fragments of light and color off of the walls) and revamp the 301 guest rooms. In addition, a new American grill, 500 South, will be completed this month.
Besides a light-filled lobby and remodeled accommodations, expect an attentive staff that will always start the morning with a smile. As one might gather, the resort’s location is a playground for golf enthusiasts, and Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village does its part to incorporate the sport into a guest’s experience. A golf simulator right off of the lobby beckons novices and pros alike to take a stab at perfecting their swing with a few rounds of virtual golf (it’s the same concept as a Nintendo Wii, but you’re hitting balls at a screen with a golf club).
Here’s where the aforementioned grace and civility kicked in: Several people in our party were golf neophytes, and the more-seasoned players on staff offered words of advice to improve their game instead of jeers when, inevitably, a “banana ball” or two would hit the screen.
Where to Stay
This property offers accommodations to suit any type of clientele. We stayed in a generously sized guest room with double beds, accented by dashes of red and plush bedding. Our view of the rolling golf courses and lake were an added bonus. Tell your clients to opt for rooms 23 through 38 for those views. For romantics, the best sunset views are in rooms 27 through 31. Have clients traveling with the kids in tow? Opt for the suites and Executive Kings, which boast an ample amount of space, as well as flat-panel TVs, refrigerators and balconies. However, for those travelers who need the ultimate amount of space—and bragging rights to boot—the Presidential Suites are the best accommodations in the house. These rooms, of which there are two, have a full-size table that seats four, oversized bathtub, walk-in shower and large balcony.
The Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village.
Spa lovers will find everything they are looking for at the PGA Tour Spa Laterra. We enjoyed a massage at this peaceful sanctuary, which is accented with three outside cabanas. While waiting for our massage, we lounged on a plush chaise and sipped tea to the tranquil sounds of rain falling. The most popular treatments are the 60-minute massage or the tropical fruit facial. The spa director is Sheila Bracewell (904-940-7800, [email protected]).
The general manager of The Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village is Mark Schwantner (904-940-8601, [email protected]); agents should contact Director of Sales and Marketing Scott Selvaggi (904-940-8631, [email protected]).
Things to See and Do
A highlight of our trip was getting to see everything St. Augustine has to offer on a trolley tour. The city boasts the distinction of being the oldest continuously occupied, European-established city in the United States. History buffs might also appreciate the fact that it is the home of the fabled Fountain of Youth.
We will be the first to admit our knowledge of golf is limited; however, this all changed after a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame, where we were given the history of the sport, complete with the opportunity to putt with antique clubs on an old-fashioned green.
Practice makes perfect, and we learned as much at the PGA Tour Golf Academy where dedicated instructors dissect and analyze a student’s swing and compare it to the pros. Although we didn’t get to shake Tiger’s hand, we did see his swing technique frame by frame and walked away with a few ideas on how to improve our game.
This wouldn’t truly be an article about golf without reference to the 1980 film Caddyshack, and thus it is fitting that Bill Murray and his brothers set up shop with a restaurant at The World Golf Village. We enjoyed a chicken sandwich and crisp French fries at the establishment, which was filled with golf memorabilia, including lawnmowers hanging from the ceiling as fans.
Now, when asked about places to visit in Florida, St. Augustine will top the list. Although we can still hit the ball only a few feet or so, we are also proud to throw in a few Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer references into our golf vocabulary.